Image Courtesy of Marvel.com
Spoilers: Keep in mind that my method of reviewing involves spoilers for purposes of analysis. If you care about being spoiled and have not read Secret Wars #1 yet, please avoid this review until you do!!
See? I told you I’d get this up before Secret Wars #2 came out.
First of all, I want to say that this book is of an EXTREMELY high quality construction. The cover is thick and heavy, and the pages are definitely a heavier stock than standard comic pages. It’s almost like a mini graphic novel. Marvel really pulled out all the stops for quality here. I really appreciate that, especially with major events like this, when you know there’s going to be a collection coming out, but people really want to hang onto these issues, as well. With regards to the details of the book itself… I’ll start by saying, I’m not crazy about the art style. Esad Ribic has a very unique style, which can work very well, but I don’t feel like it does here. He has a penchant for really under-defined art, where there isn’t a lot of heavy line work. And with something like Silver Surfer (I really like Ribic’s Silver Surfer), that works, but when you are looking at a book that is covering a huge cast of very different characters (by the way, this book gets CONFUSING. The cast page is indispensable), definition matters. Clearly defined lines help to distinguish what you are looking at, and it really helps to make those characters pop. Also, the lips on these characters are weird. I’m not sure how else to say it, but I couldn’t get over the lips. Anyway, I’m not crazy about the art choice in Secret Wars thus far, but I will say that the coloring—especially with regards to flashes of light and explosions—is REALLY solid (because what Ribic loses in definition he makes up for in shading and it’s REALLY obvious when we are talking about blending these massive bursts of light, which is one reason that his Silver Surfer looks so great).
As for the plot content… This is a huge event, and we are going to be talking about it for at least four months. It is going to permeate every part of the Marvel universe, so it’s hard not to put a lot of pressure on the plot to deliver something worth that investment. That said… It delivers about as well as I would expect from issue #1 of a big multiverse-wide event. It was actually a little light on the HUGE reveals (we get maybe 3 major shockers), and I’m not upset about that. I’m hoping that Marvel wants to be a bit more conservative with their plot bombs this event, which will reduce the amount of filler issues. We only have eight issues in the main series, so each one has got to be impactful. Too often, we have these events and it’s like the first and last issues are huge deals, and everything else just feels like a means to get from point A to B, so we can get to the big explosions at the end. I’m hoping that they are holding back some of the more shocking moments for later, so they avoid that.
Speaking of huge events, I was talking to a friend recently about Civil War and why we both thought it didn’t work (we had different opinions on why, but they aren’t relevant here), what’s relevant is that Civil War was a comic event that advertised itself as two sides of a war that are both right, and you should choose which one you side with. It never really lived up to that. There was one good side (Cap’s side) and then there was a bunch of misguided heroes who thought they were doing the right thing, but were really just being villains, without really knowing it. Secret Wars, though, actually seems (from issue #1, at least) to be accomplishing what Civil War promised. I can see the motivation of both worlds. They both want self-preservation. 1610 may be the ones attacking, but they are attacking, because they feel they have no better option to save their world. I like that. It’s nice to see a two-sided conflict where either side could be understood and empathized with.
As for some more details about the comic itself, I liked the fact that when people started to disappear, so did their speech bubbles. It was a nice touch. I loved Rocket and Groot’s fourth wall breaking banter: “There goes a billion dollars’ worth of red and gold crap.” “I am Groot.” “I do remember when comics were only a dollar. A dollar’s worth of crap.” And I actually thought Cyclops’ trump card was cool (and you don’t often hear me saying that ANYTHING Scott Summers does is cool). I do not understand, though, the statement that “Only two universes remain,” when we know from Spider-Verse, which JUST happened, and from Spider-Gwen, which is still running, that there are more that still exist. Maybe this will be explained in the Secret Wars: Spider-Verse comic. I’ll let you know.
Overall, I think this issue was as good as I expected it to be. It didn’t really impress me, and it didn’t disappoint me. I am looking forward to picking up issue two tomorrow (today, I guess… it’s late), and seeing what is happening now that we have the conflict established, and everyone is (presumably) on Battleworld.